Some Thoughts About Gratitude
Plus: The tangled fight over free speech
Before you head out for the holiday weekend, make sure you catch up on a few things:
“Supreme Court clears way for Trump tax returns to go to Congress.”
Trump is not taking it well, lashing out on Truth Social: "The Supreme Court has lost its honor, prestige, and standing, & has become nothing more than a political body, with our Country paying the price. They refused to even look at the Election Hoax of 2020. Shame on them!"
Lindsey Graham gets his time in the box.
“Warnock’s Lead Over Walker Widens in New Georgia Runoff Poll.”
The latest Quinnipiac poll: “Nearly 6 In 10 Americans View Trump's 2024 Run As A Bad Thing.” And….
Republicans are evenly split over who they prefer to win the Republican nomination with 44 percent preferring Trump, 44 percent preferring DeSantis and 11 percent not offering an opinion.
The GOP gets 222.
Remember when Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant was hailed as the “wonder of the world”? The company appears to be going through some things in China.
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How’s the fight for free speech going?
We have some good news and some bad news.
For some on the right, “free speech,” has devolved into a demand that notorious racists, conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, and trolls be given platforms on social media. And they are pretty jiggy at the prospect that Elon Musk will give them what hey want.
For his part, Musk seems… confused and arbitrary. It’s probably also worth noting that Musk’s record as a free speech “absolutist” is a bit of a shambles, especially when we remember that time when he wanted the Chinese government to censor negative comments about Tesla.
Previously focused on state-run media, Tesla is now trying to build relationships with auto-industry publications and influencers on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, for example by inviting them on factory tours, and conducting group “discussion sessions” with policymakers, consumers, and media outlets. According to people familiar with the matter, it’s also complained to the government over what it sees as unwarranted attacks on social media, and asked Beijing to use its censorship powers to block some of the posts.
Meanwhile, the fight in the real world goes on…
In Florida, via the First Amendment heroes at FIRE:
(A] federal court halted enforcement of key parts of Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act” in the state’s public universities, declaring that the law violates the First Amendment rights of students and faculty.
The court ruled that the “positively dystopian” act “officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints.” The court invoked George Orwell to drive home that if “liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Conor Friedersdorf warns conservatives: “Ron DeSantis’s Speech Policing Could Hurt the Right Too.”
Because the original critical race theorists failed to narrow the First Amendment in the name of anti-racism, their successors today––including some professors whom the ACLU is representing in the Florida proceedings––are able to invoke its protections.
If the populist right succeeds in stripping faculty of most First Amendment protections in the classroom, where will it turn when progressive legislatures ban its ideas on campus? Meanwhile, DeSantis and his allies are now the ones who have ceded the moral high ground to their culture-war foes by framing a debate as if free speech were in conflict with the elimination of “woke” racism. Was it worth it? As a court dubs this law unconstitutional, I feel vindicated in saying that the answer is no.
In California, via the College Fix:
Students and speakers at the University of California Hastings College of the Law will now have better protections for free speech. The school updated its policy on events and eliminated the heckler’s veto.
As a result, protesters at the public university can no longer shout down speakers or cause a disruption with the goal of ending an event, according to the new policy….
The Event Policy prohibits “forms of protest that substantially disrupt an in-person or virtual event in a way that has the effect of silencing a speaker,” but still recognizes and protects peaceful protest such as banner holding, counter events, and engaging in question and answer periods as part of the “essential right to protest.”
In Missouri, via PEN:
(ST. LOUIS)— Missouri has banned nearly 300 books in at least 11 school districts since August, PEN America said today and— joined by over 20 authors and illustrators, including prize winners and best-sellers like Margaret Atwood, Art Spiegelman, Lois Lowry and others— called on school districts to immediately reverse the bans and return all books to library shelves.
School districts have banned works on Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, graphic novel adaptations of classics by Shakespeare and Mark Twain as well as The Gettysburg Address, the Pulitzer-prize winning Maus, and educational books about the Holocaust. Also banned have been comics about Batman, X-Men, and Watchmen; The Complete Guide to Drawing & Painting by Reader’s Digest; Women (a book of photographs by Annie Leibovitz); and The Children’s Bible. The complete list of books banned in Missouri records 297 books across the state
And in South Carolina, via NBC:
On Tuesday evening, the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina swore in the board members who were elected last week, six of whom were endorsed by the conservative activist group Moms for Liberty.
Within two hours, the school board had voted to fire the district’s first Black superintendent, terminate the district’s lawyer, ban critical race theory and set up a committee to decide whether certain books and materials should be banned from schools.
To be continued…
Some Thanksgiving thoughts about gratitude
Excerpt from Frederick Buechner’s sermon "A Room Called Remember," first published in A Room Called Remember and later in Secrets in the Dark:
We must, each one of us, remember our own lives.
Someone died whom we loved and needed, and from somewhere something came to fill our emptiness and mend us where we were broken. Was it only time that mended, only the resurging busyness of life that filled our emptiness?
In anger we said something once that we could have bitten our tongues out for afterwards, or in anger somebody said something to us. But out of somewhere forgiveness came, a bridge was rebuilt; or maybe forgiveness never came, and to this day we have found no bridge back. Is the human heart the only source of its own healing? Is it the human conscience only that whispers to us that in bitterness and estrangement is death?
We listen to the evening news with its usual recital of shabbiness and horror, and God, if we believe in him at all, seems remote and powerless, a child's dream. But there are other times—often the most unexpected, unlikely times—when strong as life itself comes the sense that there is a holiness deeper than shabbiness and horror and at the very heart of darkness a light unutterable.
Is it only the unpredictable fluctuations of the human spirit that we have to thank? We must each of us answer for ourselves, remember for ourselves, preach to ourselves our own sermons. But "Remember the wonderful works," sings King David, because if we remember deeply and truly, he says, we will know whom to thank, and in that room of thanksgiving and remembering there is peace.
Programming note: In Thursday’s Bulwark podcast, all of the members of Team Bulwark will come together to remember what they are thankful for this year.
We’d be grateful if you listened.
1. Trump’s Day in Court (and Court and Court and Court)
Kim Wehle on all of Trump’s legal #losing.
For starters, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is winding up its three-week criminal trial against the Trump Organization, which it charged with nine counts of wrongdoing, ranging from tax fraud and conspiracy to falsifying records. Longtime Trump aide Allen Weisselberg testified on behalf of the government regarding the apartments, luxury cars, and private-school tuition for which off-the-books payments were made….
Also on Tuesday, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit heard oral argument on Trump’s claim that a special master is needed to oversee the FBI’s review of the nearly 22,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in August. Three things to keep in mind here. The first is that Trump already resoundingly lost his argument before this court as to classified records, which the court released to the FBI and the Department of Justice in September, reversing the lower, district court’s bizarre ruling to the contrary.
The second is that no one but Trump would come close to receiving the kid-glove treatment that he has received in these proceedings; normally, once a warrant is authorized by a judge under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (as happened here), the government holds the cards. Nobody gets to stop the government from pursuing a criminal investigation altogether. Trump did.
The third is that Trump’s complaints are easily rectified—he asserts that some materials are protected by attorney-client privilege or are personal, not presidential, records….
2. Kari Lake’s Election Denial Isn’t About 2022. It’s About 2024.
She’s running. (For VP.) Dennis Aftergut in this morning’s Bulwark:
Cynics of the world, unite. Kari Lake will lead you.
Or at least she’ll be #2 on the ticket. That’s where her sights are set in the presidential sweepstakes: “Trump-Lake 2024” is the bumper sticker she’s printing in her mind.
3. Members of Congress Crossing Ethical and Legal Lines in Trading Stocks
Joe Perticone in today’s Bulwark:
[Representative Virginia ]Foxx trades more than almost any member of Congress. She disclosed 101 transactions in the third quarter of 2022, more than five times her activity from the same period last year, according to data compiled by House Stock Watcher. The site estimates her total trade volume—including the amounts of both purchases and sales—to be around $11.7 million since late 2019.
A spokesperson for Foxx did not respond to a request for comment.
Among her congressional colleagues, Foxx is hardly alone. If anything, she typifies the popularity of trading on Capitol Hill; lawmakers appear to be especially keen on closely managing investments relevant to legislative work. Investigations have revealed scores of violations of the STOCK Act—a 2012 law intended to combat insider trading—and some members have even gone to jail for using their access to enrich themselves.
4. The Last Authoritarian World Cup
Garrett Quinn in today’s Bulwark:
Hosting rights for these events should be limited to Western-style democracies permanently. The Olympics and World Cup are simply too big and too important to the common life of the world to be surrendered to authoritarians bent on exploiting them. As the struggle between democracies and autocracies becomes the focus of twenty-first century geopolitics, it is imperative that Qatar’s 2022 tournament be the last authoritarian World Cup.
That last tweet typifies my problem with "conservatives". They absolutely cannot give up worrying about what other people do for fun. I am not libertarian, but I am fairly libertarian in this regard: If someone enjoys doing something that causes no direct or indirect harm to someone else, I don't care if they do it. I hate the smell of marijuana and worry about my daughter being exposed to the smoke from it. However, I am fine with people smoking it as long as they are doing it without driving or causing some kind of public nuisance.
There is a gay couple that lives next door to us. Do I think about what they do in there in the dark? NO! I never think about them unless I pass them in the hallway.
Do I care what anyone is reading in their home? NO!
Quit.worrying.about.what.other.people.do. (That's not a link. Substack just thinks that it is.)
"Are we not supposed to talk about the US Army Major taking his family down to the local drag club for a night out?"
What a POS indeed. Yes, let's talk! About how LGBTQ+ people are not a threat to straight people. Let's talk about how many people have a LGBTQ+ person in their families or circle of friends, and love them. Let's talk about how Fierro loved his family and their friends enough to attend someone's first drag show. About how he demonstrated acceptance and support. How he defended people's lives - straight, LGBTQ+, unknown - at great peril to himself. I will talk about that all day long.